Toni Alston

Om Yoga Studio in Stonefields, Auckland

Years teaching:
I am in my first year of teaching! It will be a full year in June.

Years practicing:
It has been about eight years since yoga started to weave its way into my life, and four since I deepened my meditation and asana practice.

Favourite yoga style:
I love slow flows and Yin, anything that offers lots of space for exploration.

Favourite asana at the moment?
Sukhasana and Virasana! Even in the simplest postures, there is always something new to discover and no two days are ever the same.

What did you take away from your teacher training that you’ll continue to include in your teaching?
There was so much, but I especially love the Yamas and Niyamas. They put the best of human nature into words. I try and work with them during class development, class delivery, and everything in between.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of becoming a yoga teacher?
If the idea of a yoga teacher training is calling you, go for it! Take the time to find the course that resonates with you. I thought that I would have to travel to find my first training course, then found a world class studio within five minutes of my home.

Do you have a daily mantra or affirmation you’d like to share?
They come and go. The one that has been floating around recently is “She is here” with regard to the divine feminine’s presence within. Or “I am here”. It brings me into the present, whether that is, in an interaction with another person, a task, or a moment to connect with my surroundings, my existence and Nature.

How is your own practice during Level 4 Lockdown?
I am really grateful to have my own health, and to be able to operate at a slower rhythm. The lockdown has given me space to go deeper into all aspects of my practice and to integrate some of the many learnings from the last year. It has been wonderful taking parts of my asana practice (and group meditation sits) online. I didn’t think an online platform could retain so much connection, but I have learned that it absolutely can, and that has been really special.

What’s the one thing you do on a less than awesome day to stay positive?
Go back to the basics. First is breath. Then nourishment, rest, movement and connection. I have never come out of a meditation feeling worse than going in, so if I can, I often will just sit. I’m working on remembering that the less than awesome days are golden opportunities to practice being fully present with whatever is coming up. Of course, some days it’s easier to remember that than others!

Who inspires your practice?
I am inspired by all of the teachers in our local and wider community. There is this seemingly endless pool of knowledge, patience, growth, uniqueness, energy for others and clear boundaries. As a new teacher, it gives me so much to look up to. On an inner level, the heart of my practice is inspired by movement and stillness. The part of me that is inherently nature.

Do you meditate daily?
Almost daily! Meditation has always been, and continues to be, the foundation of my practice.

Any advice for keeping zen during this time?
Be intentional with what you are consuming regarding media – especially news and social media. See the faces of your loved ones (even if they are on a screen) and laugh as much as you can. And keep showing up to your practice!

What do you love about your part of town?
We are in Meadowbank, East Auckland. As I have learned in the last few weeks, there are so many different directions to explore, just by walking out the front door. I am so grateful for our backyard, which is just enough for our veggie garden, and bees!

Thank you so much, Toni!

Would you like to be a Featured Yogi? We’d love to know more about you! Or is there someone you’d like to nominate … another teacher, a stupendous student? Getting to know our fellow yogis creates connection. We like that. Get in touch here.

© The Yoga Connection 2020